For the first time since 2013, there is a returning starting quarterback for Alabama.

Not since AJ McCarron returned for his senior season has the Crimson Tide enjoyed a quarterback having a year’s worth of starting experience under his belt.

Jalen Hurts has 14 games as a starter and 15 games overall in which he’s played. But behind him there is zip. Not a single snap of college football has been played for the true freshmen Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones.

That is something that concerns Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Lack of experience

“Well, we have one year of experience – all of our quarterbacks combined,” Saban said. “So that’s more of a dynamic than having the starting quarterback back.”

With just three scholarships quarterbacks on the roster, there isn’t a wealth of experience. Saban reiterated that Hurts remains the starter and that the main goal this spring is to make him a better passer.

“I think that because we do have a starting quarterback coming back, it’s easier for us to self-assess what we need to do for him, with him, to help him, to coach him so that he can develop in areas that would be helpful to him becoming even more of a complete player – mostly in the passing game,” Saban said.

“That’s something that we’re going to work hard on in the spring and also in fall. If he could do that and be sort of a dual-threat guy, I think it would be really, really difficult for defenses to defend him.”

Developing a back-up QB

Behind grooming Hurts as a passer is the fact that the coaches must develop a back-up quarterback. Either Tagovailoa or Jones will need to be ready in case of an emergency.

“…the other two guys who are freshmen, they’re going to have to grow into being adequate backups by the fall,” Saban said. “This is the least amount of experience we’ve ever had at quarterback, regardless of having a starter back. But I like all the guys, I like their attitude and I think they all three have a lot of potential to really be good players.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.